The RCIPS Family Support Unit is taking active steps to try and encourage men who are suffering abuse to come forward. Officers within the unit are often asked if men really can and do get abused and the answer is yes.
Inspector Angelique Howell, head of the unit said: ‘There are a lot of men in our society that are on the receiving end of domestic violence and there are many reasons why men don’t tell of their abuse.
‘Many men cope with being abused by taking on a macho ‘I can handle it’ attitude. Even if you have been hurt much worse on an athletic playing field it is not the same as being physically or mentally attacked by your intimate partner, which hurts emotionally as well as physically. Allowing this pattern to continue can result in depression, substance abuse, loss of confidence and even suicide.’
Typically, men face a greater degree of disbelief and ridicule than most women in this situation, which contributes to enforcing the silence. Abusers are expert at making victims feel like no-one is on their side, which is a self-fulfilling prophecy; the more you withdraw from friends and family to protect your partner, the less other people will be able to help you by confirming your experiences.
There are many reasons why men feel they cannot leave an abusive relationship:
• Shame – ‘What will people think if they knew I let a woman beat up on me?’ ‘I don’t want to be laughed at; no one would believe me.’
• Self-worth – ‘I probably deserved it.’
• Denial – ‘I can handle it, it’s not that bad.’ or ‘All I have to do is leave the house until she cools down.’
• Reluctance to give up the good – ‘She is a creative, loving and/or wonderful person most of the time.’ or ‘She doesn’t mean to be this way; she only gets this way a few times a month so it’s not that bad; the kids are giving her a hard time etc.’ ‘Even though she is abusive to me she is still a good mother.’
• Inertia (sluggishness) – ‘It’s too hard to do anything.’ or ‘I’m not ready for that much change in my life.’ or ‘I’ll do it tomorrow, or later, when I’m not so busy.’
• Financial – ‘I am disabled and on a limited income and she controls the household finances. I will have no where to go and no money to live on if I leave.’ ‘She keeps the checkbook and gives me a small allowance every week so if I try to keep out any money she will blow up at me.’
• Love – ‘But I really love her.’ ‘When I got married it was for life.’ ‘I don’t want to break up my family.’
Have you been abused?
How many of these things has your partner done to you?
• Ignored your feelings.
• Ridiculed or insulted you.
• Ridiculed or insulted your most valued beliefs, your religion, race, heritage, or class.
• Withheld approval, appreciation, or affection as punishment.
• Continually criticized you, called you names, shouted at you.
• Humiliated you in private or public.
• Controlled the money, made all major decisions.
• Regularly threatened to leave or told you to leave.
• Punished or deprived the children when angry at you.
• Harassed you about affairs she imagined you were or are having.
• Destroyed furniture, broke appliances.
• Hit, kicked, shoved, punched, bit, spat at you or thrown things at you when she was jealous or angry.
• You make decisions about activities and friends based on what your partner wants or how your partner will react.
Other questions that may help a man decide he is in an abusive relationship:
• Do you often doubt your own judgment or wonder if you are crazy?
• Do you express your opinion less and less freely?
• Do you tend to see others less often?
• Do you spend a lot of time watching for your partner’s bad, and not-so-bad, moods before bringing up a subject?
• Do you ask your partner’s permission to spend money, or socialize with friends?
If you find yourself apologizing for your partner’s behaviour when she has treated you badly then you are being abused.
Tips for men on stopping the abuse:
• Never allow yourself to be provoked into any kind of retaliation.
• If you are in an argument, make sure you are in a room with two doors so you can leave; a lot of times a woman will block the door, the man will try to move her, and that can be enough for him to get arrested.
• Document everything.
• Go to your doctor and tell him/her what happened, even if he/she doesn’t ask how you were injured.
• Take photographs of your injuries, and make sure the police are called so a report can be documented and request a copy of the report for yourself.
• Consider a restraining order.
• Seek counselling so you can start healing.
• Seek legal advice.
• Talk with your family and friends who can help support you. They will understand.
Inspector Angelique Howell added: ‘Domestic violence is not about size, gender, or strength. It’s about abuse, control, and power, and getting out of dangerous situations and getting help, whether you are a woman being abused, or a man.’
The RCIPS has a zero tolerance to domestic violence aims to equally investigate and report offenders for prosecution of offences that constitute domestic violence. The FSU urges anyone who is being abused by their partner or family members to come forward.
Most of the resources that are available to abused women are also available to abused men. The police and the support groups cannot help you if they don’t know about your abuse. Report your abuse.
For more information on the fight against Domestic Violence please contact the FSU on 946-9185 or any of the police stations in Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman or in an emergency call 911.